When I was pregnant, I very nervously drilled my friends on the ins and outs of labor. As as soon-to-be new mom, I was terrified. I expected the epidural to be painful and there was no way some magic medicine was going to make this experience not hurt. How could it not hurt? I was so afraid that the “after” would be a painful disaster. Look – it wasn’t painless, but labor was smooth and recovery was not that bad. I am obviously not an expert and know every experience is different. But I wanted to share what my postpartum recovery was like for me and what I relied on to get through it. There’s so little information given to new moms, so I’m sharing this of postpartum essentials to hopefully help some of you feel more prepared.

Postpartum Essentials You’ll Need for Recovery

A few friends with different experiences (“natural” drug-free labor, epidurals, and c-sections) all had babies right before I had Margot. Their experiences taught me that in the end, everything would be ok. I shared my birth story, but here’s a short recap. Opting to go into labor and delivery without a birth plan worked very well for me. I can be Type A but I’m also not the best planner, and I didn’t want to go into it with any ideas of how things “should” go. The only certainty was that I wanted an epidural for pain relief. I knew I couldn’t control the rest, so we’d just wait and see. As someone who was initially very afraid of childbirth, I was shockingly calm once we got to the hospital.

As someone who doesn’t wear pads, I hated them so, so much. Postpartum underwear which is really more of an adult diaper made things so much easier. Not the most glamorous, but they actually gave me dignity. I thought everything would be feel horrible down there and I was sore. Your perineal area will hurt, but with the right products and tools, it’s a lot more manageable. The new baby snuggles help, too. I relied on quite a few Frida Mom products and a few other great options to help with the postpartum period. Keep in mind that I had a vaginal delivery with both pregnancies so that is all I can speak to. Here’s everything I used for a vaginal birth. 

Postpartum Essentials You’ll Need for Recovery

At least a month before your due date, set up a postpartum care kit in your bathroom. An easy access caddy, basket, or cart of some kind will make life a lost easier. 

Stool Softener

Let’s start with the thing no one wants to talk about. Just stay on top of these. I’ll tell you this: I had friend who shared very painful experiences with their first time going no. 2 post-baby. I stayed on top of these and was completely fine. Not painful at all. Do not forget to pack these in your hospital bag. 

Sitz Bath Soak

One of the things I should have done but didn’t do with my first was take sitz baths. I knew about them, but a nurse said something to Conor about not taking regular baths that were too hot, and he thought she said I shouldn’t take baths at all. We were new parents and had no idea what we were doing. And as a result, my stitches didn’t dissolve and were really bothering me a few weeks after having Margot. I thought one might be loose or poking me, so I went to the doctor and my stitches had to be removed. It was a very painful experience – so much that I had to ask the nurse to stop and give me a few breaks. The lesson: take those sitz baths! 

Postpartum Underwear

Unpopular opinion but I hated the hospital’s mesh underwear. It was too loose and felt very medical. I’ll start with my adult diapers (so fun) and then switch to these after a week or two. I haven’t tried this brand but a friend recommended them, so I ordered a few pairs to wear postpartum. 

Disposable Postpartum Underwear

These are a lot easier the first week or two, when vaginal bleeding as on the more intense side. Pads were always sticking to my skin and moving around. Then my friend came over with this disposable underwear and it saved me. They’re basically lady diapers but they’re discreet enough and so much more comfortable than mesh underwear and pads.

The Fridet

The hospital gives you a regular squirt bottle, but this one is much better since it’s curved and easier to use. I filled it with warm water and used it any time I went to the bathroom for at least a few weeks.

Perineal Ice Packs

I felt pretty good during the day but for the first few weeks, once 5-7PM rolled around, I started to feel really sore down there. Instant ice maxi pads really helped. It was all manageable enough, but still pretty uncomfortable, so these ice packs came in very handy. To make them even stronger, I’d run them under a little cold water before putting this…down there. Be careful not to use them too much. To avoid TMI I’ll just stop there but trust me on that one.

Perineal Spray

This is completely natural and very soothing (and cooling, too). I’d it on any time I felt sore.

Pain Relieving Spray

This was given to me in the hospital, and I used it when I went to the bathroom or felt sore. It really helps with perineal pain. Once the pain lessened, I switched to Earth Mama spray.

Perineal Cooling Pad Liners

I used these the first few days, starting in the hospital. They felt very cooling and gave me some relief from soreness. The nurse advised me to line them up on a pad the way you would salami on a sandwich. Fun, right? You’re rolling your eyes aren’t you? They help!

Maternity Leggings

These leggings were made for motherhood for the new mama. Pack them in your hospital bag to feel your best post-baby. It’s not just about looks. I felt so nauseous without some sort of compression around my stomach and actually ended up in Spanx after having my first. 

Walking made me feel really nauseous the first week or two. All the postpartum wraps had horrible reviews, so I gave these a shot – 100% for comfort and not to smooth things out, which is what they’re intended for. These made it so I could go on walks again in the beginning. I also highly recommend the Lululemon Align pants! They’re so comfortable and don’t dig in when you’re holding on to a few (or in my case 15) extra lbs.

Kimono Robe

This robe is lightweight, cozy, and so easy to wear when you’re lounging around with baby during those early days. Sure, dresses are nice to have, but I wasn’t really getting dressed too often the first week or two, and felt really good in this. It makes skin-to-skin a lot easier, too. I love and swear by this robe, so much that I have three of them. 

Cooling Fan (nice to have but not a must) 

Postpartum hormones are no joke. This is a splurge, but you’ll otherwise blast the AC so low that you’ll freeze everyone else in your home. I blasted this fan on myself throughout most of my pregnancy and after having both of my babies and loved the relief it provided when I felt like I was melting.

More on my birth and postpartum experience

My induction experience

I was so ready to meet my baby, to no longer be pregnant, and as long as she was healthy, nothing else mattered. My elective induction took place on my due date, mostly because I was terrified to go over my due date and have a huge baby (we were both big). I wanted to avoid a C section if I could. I opted to get an epidural as soon as I started to feel contractions. Again, just my experience, but most have told me it’s not bad, and that’s how it went for me as well. I dilated quickly, pushed for about 25 minutes, and had Margot about 10 hours after starting Pitocin. I tore and needed stitches in a place where nothing should ever ever tear. They did bother me – mostly because they pinched and itched a bit – but they were manageable. The post-baby part wasn’t comfortable, but it was fine. And having a baby is the best possible distraction. Literally nothing else matters.

Something I struggled with

I hate to admit this, but one of the things I thought about most while pregnant was anticipating being 20+ lbs heavier all summer long. I’m not one of those lucky gals who gained 20-25 lbs. during my pregnancy. It was more like 40 and nothing fit for a while. A lot still doesn’t and I’m almost 6 months out. 20 lbs sort of flew off, and I naively thought I would lose the rest by the end of the year. I still have 10 to go and that’s ok. I grew a human! The takeaway is that as someone who worried about how I might feel, I was fine. Even though I don’t like the way my jeans fit, I know I’ll get back eventually.

I understand every experiences are different, so this is just my experience, but it was all manageable. I felt ok most of the day, but for the first week or two, after moving around all day, started to feel really sore in the early hours of the evening. At that point, sitting was uncomfortable and I needed to just stuff an ice pack in my pants (TMI?) and sit still. There was a lot of fear around going to the bathroom (#2) but that wasn’t bad (for me) at all. It happened a few days post-delivery and was fine! Take those softeners that the hospital gives you!

If you choose to breast feed

I tried this for a few months with my first and second, and it didn’t really go well for me. As a result, I am not the right person to share all the essentials. But I’ll say this. I worked with lactation consultants and my milk supply just wasn’t great. I relied on my breast pump, breast pads, and nipple cream to get through it. My best piece of advice is to be kind to yourself. If you want to try it, try it. If it feels too hard or painful or isn’t working, don’t keep going because you feel like you have to. The best moms are the happiest moms, and the anxiety and exhaustion that can come with a low supply and other issues can be incredibly draining.

This post contains affiliate links. If you purchase something using my links, I may earn a small commission at no cost to you.